PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ravell Deshawn Sterling’s family remembers him as a talented musician.
He was gunned down Friday in what appears to be a random killing, according to his father and police.
“He was just a kid trying to find his way and make an honest living and get himself on track, on the right path,” Morris Sterling said.
The 23-year-old lived in Gresham with Jailyn Brown, his girlfriend of 5 years. He told Brown he was making a quick trip to a nearby store when he left her on Friday. But he never made it home.
“He was supposed to be coming right back,” Morris Sterling told KOIN 6 News by phone from North Carolina.
Sterling was shot and killed as he walked to the store in broad daylight. Now his loved ones are left asking why.
“He doesn’t know them,” Brown said. “He was just supposed to walk to the store and come right back. These are strangers, he does not know these people.”
Family members say Sterling was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And based on what investigators have learned so far, they seem to agree.
Authorities confirm Sterling was not involved in any local gangs. His father said no one in the family knows the 3 suspects and they’re unaware of any motive.
“He was a good kid in school,” Morris Sterling said. “He just has music in his blood.”
Sterling was the youngest of 5 siblings. Three live in Portland, the fourth in Virginia. His family moved to the Portland metro in the 1990s. Sterling attended Jefferson High School where his father said he played on the school’s football and basketball teams.
As a child, Sterling grew up surrounded by music. His father is a musician and other family members participate in a gospel group. Music played a large part in Sterling’s life. He was part of a local rap group called “YSOT” which he considered his second family. The group had just started performing, his father said.
“He was a very loving, sweet, caring person,” Brown said. “It’s really hard to go through everyday life without him.”
A neighbor described him as respectful, polite and well-liked in the community.
Morris Sterling said the family is in the process of flying out to Oregon to prepare a memorial service.
In a statement, Sterling’s sister Shalisa Jackson said, “Ravell was a out going and out spoken person. No matter what trials and tribulations came his way, he ALWAYS stayed positive because he knew his moment to shine was coming. He was shining star, a believer and had the most faith!”
Sterling’s family started a GoFundMe account in his honor.
According to an affidavit prepared by Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Lauren Kemp, Sterling was shot multiple times. Detectives located a 9mm shell casing and two .45 caliber casings near his body.
About 20 minutes after the initial reports of the shooting, Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Jason Lile saw a gold Cadillac with Washington license plates traveling northbound on I-205. The vehicle came from I-84. Sgt. Lile activated his sirens and emergency lights, but the car, which was occupied by 3 black men, refused to stop, Kemp wrote.
A pursuit ensued. Speeds reached 110 mph, according to the prosecutor.
A witness told detectives he heard 6 gunshots and saw a man fall to the ground, Kemp wrote. After the shooting, 2 of the men fled the scene and got into the Cadillac, which pulled out of the parking lot where Sterling was shot, Kemp wrote.
According to court records, when the pursuit ended, Rony Celis was identified as the driver. Charles Moi Moi was the front passenger and Clayton Harrell III was seated in the back.
Detectives found a Glock pistol “wedged between the front passenger seat and the center console and a Springfield model ‘X-D’ pistol lying on the front passenger seat,” Kemp wrote.
Moi Moi was interviewed by Gresham Police Detective Scott Hogan. During the interview Moi Moi reportedly said “he intended to rob the victim which did not go as planned,” Kemp wrote. Moi Moi told police Sterling got into the Cadillac and “then realized a robbery was going to occur and tried to leave,” Kemp wrote. Moi Moi then confessed to shooting Sterling using his .45 caliber Springfield model ‘X-D’ pistol.
Moi Moi is charged with one count of aggravated murder and felony murder. Celis and Harrell are both charged with felony murder.
All 3 appeared in court in Cowlitz County, Washington on Monday. Their return date to Multnomah County has not been determined.
Morris Sterling said it “infuriates” him to know that young men are responsible for his son’s killing. He said the family is keeping strong in its faith.
“We know that God doesn’t make any mistakes and we know that everything happens for a reason and overall He will be the one to take care of this,” Morris Sterling said. “We hope that someone learns something from this.”